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Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

This covers three types of illegal and prohibited behavior: 1. Discrimination, 2. Workplace harassment and 3. Sexual harassment Discrimination and workplace harassment are based upon an individuals protected class status.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Protected class status under US federal law includes:


race, color and national origin; sex (includes pregnancy-related conditions); religion; age (40 and older); disability; a person who uses leave covered by the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act; a person who uses Military Leave; a person who associates with a protected class; a person who opposes unlawful employment practices, files a complaint or testifies about violations or possible violations; and any other protected class as defined by federal law.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


Discrimination is

A supervisor or person in authority making employment decisions related to hiring, firing, transferring, promoting, demoting, benefits, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment, because of an employees protected class status.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


*Examples of discrimination include: A supervisor refusing to hire a well qualified candidate because she is pregnant. Not training a person who is close to retirement age Preferring a candidate due to the fact the s/he has same sect or cast or party as that of the supervisor

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Workplace Harassment is

Unwelcome, unwanted or offensive conduct based on or because of an employees protected class status.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Examples of workplace harassment include: An employee repeatedly addresses coworkers with derogatory comments or stereotypes related to their race or religion. An employee tries to get a coworker to resign by spreading untrue, malicious gossip about the coworker, because of the coworkers disability.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


Sexual Harassment is

Unwelcome, unwanted, or offensive sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: 1. Submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the individuals employment; or is used as a basis for any employment decision (granting leave requests, promotion, favorable performance appraisal, etc.); or 2. The conduct is unwelcome, unwanted, or offensive and has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individuals work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


Examples of sexual harassment include: A supervisor telling a subordinate employee that if he/she accompanies the supervisor for a weekend get-away, the supervisor might be able to arrange for some paid time off for the employee, or look into a promotion for the employee. A person in authority threatening to discredit a subordinate employee if they wont attend a party with them after work.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Any employee believing they have been subjected to discrimination, workplace harassment or sexual harassment should report that behavior to their immediate supervisor, another member of management or the agency Human Resource section. A complaint may be made verbally or in writing.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Why is it important for employees to report discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment? Answer Discrimination ,workplace harassment and sexual harassment can cause:

Employees to be hurt emotionally Productivity to go down Absenteeism to go up The work of the agency to be jeopardized Employees to be fearful of others Workplace morale to be reduced

When management knows about the problem it can be corrected Discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment must be stopped!

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Why do employees hesitate to report discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment? Answer Fear of losing their job Fear of retaliation Fear of getting someone into trouble Fear of disrupting the workplace Fear of being accused of having no sense of humor Fear of being embarrassed Fear of feeling like less of a man/woman Fear of not being believed. Discrimination and harassment are generally subtle and inconspicuous.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

What can a supervisor do to help employees feel safe reporting discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment? Answer Set an example of respectful workplace behavior. Have clear expectations that discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment are not tolerated. Have a clear mechanism for reporting; including the ability to report to another member of management should the supervisor be the accused. Take immediate steps to stop inappropriate behavior or conduct as it occurs or is reported. Guard against retaliation. Handle investigations as discretely and confidentially as possible. Be sensitive to the feelings of all involved. It is not easy for the complainant, the accused or anyone participating in an investigation.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Once a complaint of discrimination, workplace harassment or sexual harassment is made, the agency must promptly investigate the complaint. Complaints are taken seriously and are confidential to the extent possible. Employees are expected to cooperate with an investigation and keep information regarding the investigation confidential.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


Scenario: An employee reports harassment to his/her supervisor and says, I dont want you to do anything about this. I just want you to listen and be aware of what is going on.

How should the supervisor respond? Answer A supervisor cannot promise to just listen and be aware. Once a supervisor receives a report of harassment or discrimination, a supervisor has an obligation to take action. In fact, a supervisor has the responsibility to ensure the integrity of the workplace. A supervisor must exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any discrimination, workplace harassment or sexual harassment they know about or should know about.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


Scenario: A supervisor receives a report of sexual harassment. The supervisor has seen such reports divide a workforce.

What advice would you give the supervisor to help minimize disruption to the workplace? Answer Conduct an investigation discretely and quickly. Caution all parties not to discuss the investigation. Direct employees back to work who are talking about the accused or the complainant in regards to the report. Work to keep up morale in the office and ensure work is being accomplished. Be proactive. Having established expectations in place that do not allow gossiping and other non-productive or destructive activities is a preventative measure a supervisor should take.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

How should an agency treat an employee accused of discrimination, workplace harassment or sexual harassment? Answer An employee accused of discrimination, workplace harassment or sexual harassment should be treated with professionalism and respect, as you would any employee. Just because an employee has been accused, does not mean the employee is guilty. The accused employee has a chance to defend him/herself and present information and witnesses. An agency must conduct a neutral investigation. Conclusions should not be reached until the investigation is complete.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


Scenario: An employee filed a report of harassment with her supervisor. After an investigation the agency did not agree that harassment occurred. Because harassment was not found, the employee worries that she will be disciplined.

Are the employees worries founded? Answer No. An employee will not be disciplined for making a report of what the employee believes is harassment. Harassment is a term often used for lack of a better way to describe what an employee feels he/she is experiencing. Sometimes an investigation will conclude that a particular behavior was not harassment or discrimination but was inappropriate workplace behavior.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

The complainant and the accused will be notified individually when an investigation is concluded. They will be told if any part of the complaint is substantiated. The complainant will not be told specifics of any action taken against the accused. Employees engaging in conduct in violation of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. State temporary employees or volunteers engaging in conduct in violation of this policy may be subject to termination of their working or volunteer relationship with the agency.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

An employee who harasses another employee because of their protected class status, or sexually harasses another employee, while away from the workplace and outside of working hours, may be subject to the provisions of this policy if that conduct has a negative impact on the environment at work and/or working relationships and/or the employers business. Even consensual relationships can impact the work environment when one party decides they no longer wish to participate. Supervisor/subordinate relationships can also impact the work environment because of actual or perceived preferential treatment.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

If a complaint involves the conduct of a contracted employee or a contractor, management will address the problem behavior with the contractor and require prompt, appropriate action. If a complaint involves the conduct of a client, customer, or visitor, the agency should follow its own internal procedures and take prompt, appropriate action.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


Scenario: A technician is contracted to maintain the office copy machine. Each time the technician makes a service call the technician tells a dirty joke. Some employees cant wait for the machine to break down, just so they can hear the latest joke.

Even though no employees have complained, what is the supervisors responsibility? Answer The supervisor has an obligation to maintain the integrity of the office environment. The supervisor should direct the employees back to work. Even though the technician is not an employee, the supervisor should tell the technician to stop telling dirty jokes. The supervisor should contact the company holding the contract and report the behavior and request prompt corrective action.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Retaliating against employees who file complaints, participate in investigations, or report observing discrimination, workplace harassment or sexual harassment is prohibited. If an employee believes they have been retaliated against, the employee should report the retaliatory behavior to their supervisor, another manager, or the agency Human Resource section, Executive Director or chair. Complaints of retaliation will be investigated promptly.

Retaliation

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


Scenario: An investigation resulted in an employee being disciplined for sexual harassment. The disciplined employee was mad and encouraged others to shun those who participated in the investigation. You have been asked to refuse to speak to your coworkers who reported the employees behavior to the supervisor.

What can you do? Answer Just as discrimination and harassment are prohibited, so is retaliation. Refuse to participate in retaliation against your coworkers. The morale of the staff has already been harmed. You do not want to contribute to further problems. Report this behavior to management.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace


A Quiz (True or False)

Discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment can be illegal behavior. True Employment actions taken against employees that are based on or because of an employees protected class status are illegal, violating federal and state law. Unwelcome, unwanted or offensive sexual advances or requests for sexual favors which require submission in exchange for employment action or inaction are illegal, violating federal and state law.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Harassment is limited to exchanges between men and women. False Harassment can occur between men and women, women and women, and men and men.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Only a member of management has the power to eliminate discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. False Only a supervisor/manager has the authority to discipline an employee for engaging in discrimination, workplace harassment or sexual harassment. Employees at every level of the agency have the power to prevent and eliminate discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment by:

Being a role model for appropriate workplace behavior; Not engaging in it; and

Being comfortable enough to tell each other respectfully when they have been offended.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

If I tell my manager I am being harassed my manager can guarantee my name will be kept out of it. False. A manager receiving a report of harassment has an obligation to keep the information as confidential as possible. Human Resources and specific members of management may need to have some or all of the information from your report. In order for the accused to answer questions and defend him/herself, he/she will need specifics. Witnesses will be given limited information.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Prevention is the most effective way to eliminate discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace . True Taking a proactive stance to create and maintain a respectful work environment is the most effective way to prevent discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment. This can be accomplished by:

Educating the workforce about discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment; Having clear guidelines for reporting discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment; and Making it clear that that discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment are prohibited and retaliating against someone for reporting is prohibited.

Discrimination and Harassment Free Workplace

Together we must work to create and maintain a work environment that is free from discrimination, workplace harassment and sexual harassment.

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